Last week, as announced by a number of international new sources both inside and outside of Bolivia, the first of three urban cable car lines in La Paz – El Alto was finally opened to the general public.
Despite being barely a week old, a host of events and celebrations has already taken place. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s making the headlines down in the world’s highest capital:
1. Children’s Day
Image from Mi Teleférico (Facebook page).
Children accompanied by adults in La Paz were given free admission to test out the cable car. To show their support and satisfy their curiosity, an estimated 24,000 kids lined up for a chance to be the first ones ride the system. To build up an even greater transit culture amongst their youth, organizers are now holding a contest specifically designed for children.
Also, after the successful test runs, it seems that free service has now been extended for another month. The operators hope that during this time, it will help riders familiarize themselves with the new transport lines in preparation for the start of commercial operations in May.
2. Couple Gets Married
Tintaya-Condori gets married. Image from La Razon.
From many of the systems we’ve visited and research, there’s two themes that typically reoccur. One is that kids like to ride them (as proven above) and second, is that couples like to get married in them (see Gondolas and Proposals).
In the case of the Mi Teleférico, it only took a few days before a local couple claimed first place. Even the system project coordinator himself predicted that this is only the beginning of many, many more proposals and weddings on the cable car.
3. Smart Cards and Free Wifi
Smart card payment. Image from Mi Teleférico (Facebook page).
A spokesperson for the system informed that the urban gondola will be fully equipped with wifi service while fare payments will all be handled via a smart card system. Not a big deal right?
Well this would be true for many major metropolitan transit systems, but from my hometown where we’re still using tokens and facing implementation delays to our own smart fare card, all of these modern amenities on La Paz’s cable car makes me just a tad more envious.